The Power of Putting Our Heads Together

Ok students, this one’s for you.

Our story today started when we came across this article about a group of over 1,000 programmers who gathered this month at Penn for the world’s biggest university hackathon. Ok, before you think us too provocative, according to this article the term hacker does not allude to crime and espionage— rather it simply means build. So anyway, the fact that over 1,000 brilliant minds all joined together for “the programmer’s version of a slumber party, science fair, and Super Bowl rolled into one” got us thinking about something that we heard many times in our cool jobs interviews.

If you aren’t familiar with our Cool Jobs feature, it’s probably one of the coolest things that we have posted on our websites. We tracked down over 50 current STEM professionals and asked them to share their stories about how they ended up in their careers. These professionals also offered practical advice to students about how they too could follow in their footsteps and land themselves a similar career. And one of the main things we kept hearing from these STEM all-stars over and again was how students should get involved with other people who share their interests.

Dr. Chris JonesPeople like Dr. Chris Jones, a researcher with the high-profile company iRobot, suggested that kids interested in robotics can get hands-on experience with robotics by participating in such competitions as First Robotics.


Dr. Josh Wurman, a meteorologist and storm chaser that you may recognize from the Discovery Channel’s series Storm Chasers, advises students to get involved in meteorology clubs in the local area. And if your school or community does not have a group for your subject of choice, don’t let that stop you… start one! You might be surprised exactly how many of your peers are interested in the same things you are!

So yes, it’s definitely cool that over 1,000 programmers got together at Penn to create amazing things. But we think the coolest part of this story is how it illustrates what is possible when people get together. Whenever like-minded people from different backgrounds and with different experiences join together, the whole is almost always greater than the sum of the parts. So get out there and join a club, a competition, or a community event… or start your own!

But enough from us… what do you think? Have you participated in a cool event or club recently?